Following a public consultation earlier in the year, a decision has been made to create a 24/7 Urgent Treatment Centre located at Fairfield General Hospital in Bury.
The decision, which will improve access to a range of better connected urgent care services, was made at this week’s Strategic Commissioning Board, a joint committee between Bury Council and NHS Bury Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), where joint health and social care matters are discussed.
The decision follows a four week consultation earlier in the year with a focus on making urgent care services less complicated and less confusing, to ensure people know where to go for the most appropriate care and to be seen in a timely way by the most appropriate professional to meet their needs.
The preferred option, which was approved by the committee, received overall support from those that responded to the consultation. This means that Bury’s Walk-in Centre will relocate to the hospital site into a brand new building, to be part of a wider integrated and enhanced Urgent Treatment Centre. The new service will be open 24/7 and will also include mental health services, GP out of hours services and the treatment of less serious cases that are currently seen in A&E. The team will also have access to a wide range of diagnostic tests.
Whist there was overall support for the proposals, there were concerns about parking at Fairfield General Hospital and access to the site by public transport or by car. As a result, a review of travel and access to the hospital site is being undertaken, along with a review of car parking provision. Additional parking spaces and travel schemes to help patients, visitors and staff reach the hospital are being considered.
The feedback from the consultation was originally due to be considered at a meeting at the end of March, however, the COVID-19 outbreak meant that the discussion and decision had to be deferred.
The whole health and care system has had to adapt and work differently due to COVID-19, and some aspects of the plans have had to be put in place early, including rolling out a digital solution to improve access to GP services, known as ‘Ask My GP’.
In addition and as a result of the outbreak, there have been changes to Bury’s two Walk-in Centre services, with the Prestwich site being converted in to a COVID management service to support patients experiencing the symptoms of coronavirus, and the team from the Bury service being temporarily redeployed to support other urgent care services in the town.
Dr. Jeff Schryer, Chair of NHS Bury Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and co-Chair of the Strategic Commissioning Board said:
“Our proposal will make it easier for people to find their way around urgent care services and to support them to access care outside of normal working hours and at weekends.
“Through these plans we will have a more integrated, simpler and accessible urgent care system that is also better value for the money that we invest in our health services.”
Cllr. Andrea Simpson, Bury Council Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing added:
“By working in collaboration with our local health and care providers, our plans will secure the future of a walk-in option that we know people value greatly, with longer opening hours, connections to more professionals and access to diagnostics like X-ray and blood tests.
“Our future urgent care system will be easier for patients to find their way around, will be better value for money and most importantly will improve the quality of our services for years to come.
“We have heard concerns that people have about parking and access to the hospital site, and as a result a review of access to and parking at the hospital site is planned.”
As a priority, a detailed piece of work will commence at speed with a view to implementing the changes